Here's how I responded:
I'd say that small businesses make 4 basic mistakes when it comes to cause-related marketing:
- They pick a charity that's a poor strategic fit. There's a lot of potential reasons for why a small business might undertake a cause-related marketing campaign for a cause. Maybe their customers are school-age kids so they pick a local school. A restaurant might choose a hunger cause. But if you're a local welding shop, you better have a pretty good reason to support the Susan G. Komen
Breast Cancer Research Foundations; a reason your customers will easily and
quickly understand. That's because research clearly demonstrates that both
parties get the most bang for the buck when there's a clear strategic fit.
- They don't give the CRM campaign enough support. Times are tough right now
and the first impulse of plenty of businesses is to retrench. But if you're going to do a cause-related marketing campaign you need to give it proper resources. Transactional cause-related marketing (buy this and $x goes to the cause) is a promotion. And like any promotion it requires an appropriate amount of support, and I'm not talking just about money. There are ways to support a
CRM campaign using low-cost guerrilla marketing tactics. But even low-cost
efforts require a commitment of time and mental energy.
- They're in the wrong kind of business to really do cause-related marketing.
While I see plenty of what I call 'B2B cause-related marketing,' research
suggests that companies that advertise are the ones most likely to benefit in
terms of increased profitability from a cause-related marketing campaign. If you run a small cabinet-making operation that doesn't advertise, cause-related
marketing isn't likely to help make your company more profitable. However, if
you run a salsa-making enterprise that does advertise, it might.
- They pick a charity that's too big to be helpful. The biggest charities doing cause-related marketing bring in several hundred million dollars a year using just CRM. They run dozens of CRM campaigns a year using hundreds of staffers and volunteers. Some (but not all) won't be able to offer the kind of
recognition or help with a CRM campaign that a small business might want or
need. Now some small businesses might be OK being a minnow in a big lake. But small business owners that aren't OK with that should probably choose to support smaller charities.